02/28/2024 - Methane Regulation

Reducing Methane Emissions in the Oil and Natural Gas Sector (video)

Slashing methane emissions is key to limiting a warming climate and will have a massive impact on U.S. climate goals.

The combination of new regulatory measures and the availability of advanced detection technologies has created momentum to reduce methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector. The Biden Administration is requiring oil and natural gas companies to measure, report, and reduce methane emissions through five separate rules issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA).

As these federal methane rules are developed, there is an opportunity to consider how they can be designed to work together effectively and how they can collectively create incentives to reduce emissions to the greatest degree.

Agencies must also identify regulatory options collectively to foster incentives for owners and operators to minimize emission leaks as well as quickly identify and fix emissions.

The Environmental & Energy Law Program is collaborating with stakeholders to help identify regulatory options that deploy advanced technologies and cut emissions.

Read our legal analyses and listen to our podcasts focused on EPA’s rulemakings and the questions EPA is seeking stakeholder feedback on.

Legal Analyses

The Inflation Reduction Act’s Waste Emission Charge for Methane Emissions: What Did Congress Require and How is EPA Proposing to Implement the Program?

EPA’s Final Methane Rule: Incorporating Advanced Technologies and Emissions Data to Reduce Methane Emissions from the Oil and Natural Gas Sector

BLM Methane Waste Prevention Rule Summary

CleanLaw Methane Podcasts

CleanLaw: Harvard Environmental & Energy Law · Ep 91—Global and US Methane Initiatives


CleanLaw: Harvard Environmental & Energy Law · Ep 75—EPA’s Methane Regulations with Carrie Jenks, Kyle Danish, and Dan Zimmerle


EPA Methane Rulemakings

A chart of timeline estimates for EPA methane rulemakings, includes Section 111 Methane Rule, Revised Subpart W, and Methane Waste Charge.

Leveraging Third-party Expertise to Find Large Emission Events

Super Emitter Program Timeline 1: Super emitter event detected by Certified Third Party. Notifies EPA within 15 days. 2: EPA evaluates notification; if it passes screening, EPA notifies owner/operator; public notified of event but source not identified. 3: Owner/operator initiates investigation within five days of EPA notification. 4: Owner/operator has 15 days to submit report to EPA. EPA publicly attributes the release to the source. 5: Owner/operator notifies EPA once super emitter event ends if it was ongoing.

The EPA uses its Clean Air Act section 114 authority to require oil and natural gas companies to investigate potential super emitter events (i.e., at least 100 kg/hr). The program relies on work practice standards and compliance assurance provisions under Clean Air Act section 111 to require companies to fix such emission sources if they result from equipment failure and not normal operation.

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